Lyllah Ledesma is a CoinDesk Markets reporter currently based in Europe. She holds bitcoin, ether and small amounts of other crypto assets.

Bitcoin, after suffering one of its worst-ever starts to a year, came back strong in March with a 9% gain, almost completely reversing losses from earlier in 2022 and outperforming U.S. stocks while leading a rally across broader digital-asset markets.

Alternative cryptocurrencies known as altcoins also boasted gains, and some even outperformed bitcoin, with ether (ETH), the native token of the Ethereum blockchain, pushing a 15% increase.

Michael Safai, managing partner at Dexterity Capital, a trading firm focused on digital assets, noted that the volatility driven by macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty at the start of March began to stabilize during the month,

Bitcoin dipped to lows of $37,000 in early March, but has made a recovery over the last two weeks, rallying to above $48,000. Ethereum traded in a range of $2,445 to $3,472 in March.

“Tokens were freed again to move based on their merit, rather than the risk-off attitude that tends to push all coins in the same direction,” Safai said in an interview with CoinDesk.

Because altcoins often trade in sync with bitcoin, BTC’s rally in March has perhaps helped push up a diversified range of crypto assets. Among the top 10 coins with a market values above $1 billion, Solana, Terra and Cardano boasted 27% monthly gains. Avalanche’s AVAX, meanwhile, was up 15% in March.

Contributing to Solana's and Cardano’s performances in March was the growing mainstream curiosity about the launch of Ethereum 2.0, which has encouraged traders to move back into layer 1 tokens, according to Safai. He said that although markets got thrown off in February by the war in Ukraine, coins from layer 1 networks have had momentum behind them for some months.

“As things settled in March, these coins stood their ground because of their fundamentals (AVAX as well). But they got an extra pop from all the ETH 2.0 buzz as well,” Safai said.

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The top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap (Messari)

FTM – the token of layer 1 blockchain Fantom, which has a market capitalization of $3.7 billion – hasn't performed well in March. It is down 22% on the month and has had a drop in price for the last three months.

In October, Fantom rose 137% and reached its all-time high of $3.47. The token is now trading at $1.47.

“Fantom is making progress, but it is not as far along as some of the other layer 1s,” Safai said, explaining that traders might be playing it safe and pouring money into bigger proof-of-stake chains.

“This could change if risk appetites continue to increase, which would help Fantom,” he said.

Gavin Smith, CEO of Panxora, a crypto exchange and advisory firm, said that “as March has been broadly positive for crypto, Fantom has been a noticeable outlier because of the departure of two key players in the Fantom DeFi (decentralized finance) ecosystem.” He expects Fantom to outperform the general market as it recovers some of the event-driven losses.

“Fantom started March strong, but a combination of DeFi developer Andre Cronje departing the industry, combined with a rotation of funds to established layer 1 blockchains, hit Fantom hard,” said Jai Bifulco, chief commercial officer of Kinesis Money.

“The change in narrative likely saw money rotate from the Fantom ecosystem into assets that were lagging behind in growth, like Solana and Cardano, as traders and investors seek greater returns,” Bifulco said.

Looking forward to April, Safai predicts that sentiment will remain "cautiously positive."

“The healthiest sign is that volumes are starting to edge back towards the levels we saw in late December," Safai said. "This volatility is predictable, healthy and offering some great opportunities for traders that can get in and out quickly.”

According to a report from Finbold, CoinMarketCap predicts that bitcoin will trade above $51,000 by the end of April.

Additional altcoins that have taken a hit this month include Decentraland’s MANA token and Cosmo’s ATOM, which were both down 5%.

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(CoinDesk 20)

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Lyllah Ledesma is a CoinDesk Markets reporter currently based in Europe. She holds bitcoin, ether and small amounts of other crypto assets.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Lyllah Ledesma is a CoinDesk Markets reporter currently based in Europe. She holds bitcoin, ether and small amounts of other crypto assets.